EVERETT — A banner touting a white nationalist group’s logo was removed from a pedestrian bridge over West Marine View Drive last month, and now the City of Everett has supplanted it with a sign promoting unity and inclusiveness.
The words “Reclaim America” were displayed in large text on the banner, along with the website for a white nationalist group. On March 23, the sign was suspended from the older pedestrian bridge near 25th Street. It was visible on Marine View Drive for a couple of hours before someone took it down, said Kathleen Baxter, an Everett Public Works spokesperson.
In an effort to counter the previous sign’s message, the city on Tuesday put up a new banner from the same spot on the bridge, displaying the message, “All are welcome in Everett, no place for hate.”
“There is no room for hate in Everett,” Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said in a written statement. “Although it is unusual for the City to put up signs at these locations, we felt compelled to make it clear that messages of hate will not be tolerated in our City.”
The white nationalist groupz Patriot Front, formed in 2017 after the deadly “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In its propaganda, the group has co-opted the Nazi Germany-era nationalistic slogan “blood and soil” to convey its anti-Semitic message. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Texas-based group’s manifesto calls for the formation of a “white ethnostate.”
“PF’s manifesto is also explicit in its exclusion of people of color from its conception of pan-European identity,” the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote in an article about the group’s agenda.
Stickers promoting the group have appeared around Everett the past couple of years, said Natalia Tune, a member of the city’s diversity advisory board.
“I don’t know if they have a real organization here where they’re actually doing stuff, or if they’re just putting up stickers to try and recruit people,” Tune said. “It’s really disturbing.”
The hate group’s propaganda usually shows up in the form of anonymously posted flyers, banners and other media, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“When PF orchestrates protests or public appearances, they are typically tightly choreographed and scripted to maximize propaganda value. Virtually all its activities are undertaken with propaganda value in mind,” according to the law center.
Tune, a member of the LGBTQ community who identifies as transgender and non-binary, said the hateful propaganda makes marginalized groups feel unsafe.
So when a photograph of the banner caught Tune’s attention, the city was contacted and a plan was hatched to counter the white nationalist message.
The city plans to hang another “no place for hate” banner at the Evergreen Branch of the Everett Public Library.
“I was trying to create a visual representation of the fact that Everett is not a safe haven for fascists or racists or neo-Nazis. We will not tolerate that at all,” Tune said. “We obviously have a long way to go to make the content of that sign an actual reality, but it’s a good step.”
This story was corrected to reflect that the first sign was removed by someone other than city workers, according to the City of Everett.
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen